DOJ backs state’s anti-sanc­tu­ary law

Cities filed suit against SB 4

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY ANDREA NO­BLE

The Jus­tice Depart­ment is back­ing Texas in its de­fense of an anti-sanc­tu­ary city law the state passed this year, ar­gu­ing that the law does not vi­o­late the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The state’s four largest cities — Hous­ton, San An­to­nio, Dal­las and Austin — have all signed onto a law­suit chal­leng­ing Se­nate Bill 4 (SB 4) in an ef­fort to block im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law, which is set to take ef­fect Sept. 1. The suit claims the law is un­con­sti­tu­tional and un­der­mines lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ sovereignty by forc­ing them to carry out the agenda of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott signed the anti-sanc­tu­ary city law in May. It pre­vents mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from im­ple­ment­ing poli­cies that block lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cials from shar­ing im­mi­gra­tionre­lated in­for­ma­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials and gives the state the op­tion to fine ju­ris­dic­tions that refuse to co­op­er­ate — even al­low­ing the state to threaten un­co­op­er­a­tive law en­force­ment of­fi­cers with jail time.

The law will also per­mit po­lice and sher­iff’s de­part­ments to in­quire about the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of those they stop dur­ing rou­tine busi­ness.

In a state­ment of in­ter­est filed Fri­day, Jus­tice Depart­ment at­tor­neys wrote that SB 4 “rep­re­sents an im­por­tant de­ci­sion by the state of Texas to en­sure this co­op­er­a­tion oc­curs uni­formly through­out the state.”

The DOJ ar­gued that the law is not at odds with the 10th or Fourth Amend­ment, and that state co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral of­fi­cials is plainly per­mit­ted un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion and the Im­mi­gra­tion and Na­tion­al­ity Act.

“Par­ties may dis­agree with the state leg­is­la­ture’s pol­icy de­ter­mi­na­tions in en­act­ing SB 4, but noth­ing in fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law pre­cludes a state from di­rect­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in the state to co­op­er­ate with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, rather than merely per­mit­ting them to do so on an ad hoc ba­sis,” the DOJ fil­ing stated. “Nor does SB 4 raise Tenth Amend­ment con­cerns. No fed­eral statute com­man­deers state of­fi­cials, which would be nec­es­sary for such a chal­lenge.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions said the law is in line with Pres­i­dent Trump’s com­mit­ment to “keep Amer­ica safe and to en­sure co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws.”

“The Depart­ment of Jus­tice fully sup­ports Texas’s ef­fort and is par­tic­i­pat­ing in this law­suit be­cause of the strong fed­eral in­ter­est in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the state and lo­cal co­op­er­a­tion that is crit­i­cal in en­forc­ing our na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion laws,” Mr. Ses­sions said.

The first hear­ing in the case is sched­uled to take place this week in San An­to­nio.

Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton said Fri­day that the DOJ’s in­volve­ment in the case was “re­as­sur­ing.”

“En­forc­ing im­mi­gra­tion law helps pre­vent dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals from be­ing re­leased into our com­mu­ni­ties,” Mr. Pax­ton said. “We look for­ward to work­ing with DOJ lawyers to see that Se­nate Bill 4 is fully hon­ored in Texas.”

The Texas at­tor­ney gen­eral also re­sponded to the cities’ re­quest for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion.

In a re­sponse filed in court Fri­day, the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice de­fended SB4, not­ing that the law “does not re­quire of­fi­cials to take any specific action. Rather, it dis­places poli­cies that never per­mit of­fi­cials to ask about im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.”

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